SACDs, remember them? Well if you didn’t, you actually did not miss much. It was a format that was supposed to surpass CD’s, but due to various factors, it did not succeed.
There are still some various places that still produce SACDs, even with only one plant in the entire world manufacturing the discs. But nowadays, CDs and back to Vinyl is way more popular to make (and for some reason even the inferior Cassette tapes).
But if you so happen to own an SACD or two, you will find that ripping the tracks would be near impossible to rip. No, your CD drive in your computer will most likely not read them, even if it can read DVDs and Blu-Rays. There are actually newer players that can play the discs, but near to none that can RIP the discs.
So Where Do I Start to Rip SACDs?
Now if you have SACDs in your collection, you will need to either have a piece of certain equipment to rip it yourself, or to find someone who does. Certain first-run PS3s can do, and there are some Audiophile players that can do it too. If you would want to hunt down the first-run PS3s, it MUST have the SACD logo on them, and also that their firmware has NOT been updated.
(this logo must be present on your MS3 or it will not read)
If using the PS3 method, you will get an ISO file as your output. Your album would be all in one file, and no individual songs will be available. In the likely event you don’t have a SACD-ready PS3 or other hardware, there are places online that has the ISOs illegally available. I will not post links to them, find and use at your own risk.
But if you want that SACD ISO album have its songs separated, then there is a way to convert the songs to individual 2.8MHz DSF (or to PCM FLAC, if you prefer). It is actually quite simple, and you would only need one program provided by Sonore: ISO2DSD, available for Windows, MAC, and Linux. (Disclaimer, I do not own or make this program, it is owned by Simple Design.)
(Yes you can playback ISO files on Foobar and similar programs, but I like individual files.)
From ISO to Individual Song Files
1: First unzip the iso2dsd and start the iso2dsd.exe file:
2: Select whether to have Stereo or Multi channel (usually it is stereo files, but check your SACD).
3: Select ‘Sony DSF’ as your output (You can select DSDIFF if you want .dff file, in case you either have an older playback hardware that does not take .dsf, or don;t care for metadata).
4: Hit ‘Execute’ and then the bottom window will show you your progress until finished.
The files will write whatever you have in the CUE, but I have noticed it does not write unicode. So you will need to adjust the metadata in the file (Including an album art, which I find very useful and nice). I normally use Tag & Rename to tag my files, although you can use Foobar or JRiver Media Player to tag your files. Any program that has the ability to read DSD files can do.
But I Don’t Like DSD Files!
Why not? Okay, okay maybe you was some uniformity with your files, or maybe you have devices that cannot play DSD files (or even don’t want to fiddle around them). You can easily use Foobar2000 to convert your files, or similar software that can read and convert DSD files. Or you can use my guide that converts PCM to DSD and just reverse the process.
Another thing is if you use this method, I would recommend converting to 24-bit / 88.2 kHz. Mathematically, 88.2kHz evenly divides from the DSF 2.8Mhz standard (2.8224 MHz to be precise, as this number is based of the CD rate of 44.1kHz times 64) 32 times than 96kHz (29.4 times).
Actually, you can just do either 88.2kHz or 96kHz, whatever your audible taste is. Heck, if you want to rip to 24-bit / 176.4kHz or 192kHz you can do that too, just your file size will end up larger than ripping to 2.8MHZ DSD.
Also if you are wondering why SACD ISO rips to 2.8MHz DSD, and not say 5.6MHz or 11.2MHz, is that the SACD standard is at 2.8MHz. Ripping to 5.6MHz or higher will not get you a sonically better file, just a much larger one. Like converting mp3 to FLAC, the file will not be ‘better’ just larger.
So Much Hassle!
Yes, it is quite a hassle! Ripping from a highly specialized and unpopular format cheaply, of course there will be barriers to do that. Easier to just pay for the Hi-Res songs from a digital store (even though you are paying twice for the same album, so annoying!) than ripping yourself!
Personally, I like getting formats that are at best resolution at release, and not needing to buy again for something ‘better’. Main reason why I don’t buy from iTunes and Amazon mp3, since I know that those formats are inferior to a CD. After learning about the audio engineering process, and that CDs are not as good as studio masters, I did not want to buy CDs anymore since I feel I am getting a gimped version of music.
But with advancement of technology coupled with big companies wanting to grab more consumer money, there are times when you would need to re-buy just for a superior version. Like for video, buying from VHS, then to DVD, then again for Blu-Ray, and now possibly UltraHD 4k discs,
I always would want to get the superior (and still affordable) consumer version of my media products. But I would want to limit the number of steps I take to get every ‘better’ iteration. I don’t have all the money in the world, and would rather get more variety of albums than many editions of just one album. Smarter buying than just mindlessly buying everything.